One of the things I appreciate about the Catholic Health Initiatives/St. Luke’s hospital system with which I’m affiliated is that every meeting, whether in person or via conference call, begins with a “Reflection.” Our lives are so pressured, there’s precious little time for reflection. As a result, it’s easy to lose perspective. Last night on a quality conference call, Dr. Jeffrey Steinbauer, Chief Medical Information Officer for Baylor College of Medicine, provided an encouraging reflection. With his permission, I’m posting an abbreviated version:
Sir Peter Mansfield (b. 1933 – d. 2017) was an English physicist who shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Paul Lauterbur for discoveries that lead to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Born in a working class area of London in 1933, his father was a gas fitter. Like many thousands of children, he was evacuated from London during the bombings of WWII which interrupted his education several times. When he returned to London, he was given no time to prepare for the grammar school entrance exam, which he failed. At the age of 15 he was told by a “careers teacher” that science wasn’t for him, so he left school to work as a printer’s assistant.
After serving in the army for two years, he began studying for his college entrance exams at night (called the “A-levels” in Britain). He gained admittance to the University of London to study physics, graduating from Queen Mary’s College in 1959. His final-year project, supervised by Jack Powles, was to construct a portable, transistor-based spectrometer to measure the Earth’s magnetic field. Powles offered Mansfield a position in his NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) research group studying the molecular motion of liquids. After receiving his PhD in 1962 and completing postdoctoral work in the U.S., Mansfield joined the faculty of Nottingham University where he continued his studies in multiple-pulse NMR. His team developed the equipment that made MRI possible. In the 1970s, thanks to Paul Lauterbur’s and Mansfield’s developments, images of the human body were produced using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.
The life of Peter Mansfield was full of disappointments and obstacles. He had an unlikely start and his abilities were underestimated. Because of his perseverance and determination, the field of medicine was changed forever. It would be hard to find a physician who has NOT made a diagnosis or treatment decision based, at least in part, on the results of an MRI. This is why the Bible encourages us to, “Count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
I can’t think of anyone I admire who has had an easy life. Just as fire purifies gold, trials produce character. Hang in there.